By his own admission, it has been a tough year for Henry Candy with the Wantage based trainer only sending out a handful of winners during 2016. However, two of those victories have been gained in Group 1 company with Limato producing a spectacular performance in yesterday’s July Cup at Newmarket. The lightly raced four year old ran creditably over a mile in the Lockinge Stakes in May but was forced to miss Royal Ascot due to the prevailing soft ground. When he encounters his optimum conditions, he is a very smart horse though. Always going strongly for Harry Bentley, he quickened away from his rivals in devastating fashion, even though he hung to his right late on. The Tagula gelding has a knack of producing one breathtaking performance each season – his win in the Redcar Two Year Old Trophy in 2014, the Group 2 Park Stakes at Doncaster last year and now the July Cup. His trainer suggested he could return to a mile in the Sussex Stakes where he will take on the likes of Galileo Gold and The Gurkha etc. I certainly feel he is well worth another try over the trip because his stable was badly out of form when he ran in the Lockinge Stakes. The other option is the six and a half furlongs Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville. His programme will, of course, be dictated by the weather but, on his day, he is a superb horse with a potent turn of foot. Stablemate Twilight Son never looked happy on the fast ground and should be forgiven his below par effort.
It was good to see Von Blucher (7/1), featured in the Handicap Snips section of Ahead On The Flat, win the one mile handicap on the July course. Absent since finishing fourth in the Esher Cup at Sandown in the spring when he didn’t enjoy the ground, he was much more at home on the lively surface and won with a bit in hand under Robert Havlin. John Gosden indicated afterwards that a trip to Glorious Goodwood is likely to be on his agenda.
Lord George would have appreciated a stronger gallop in the closing twelve furlongs handicap at HQ. James Fanshawe’s grey had won at Yarmouth last time but the three year old isn’t blessed with a dramatic change of speed and he was only able to keep on at the one pace to finish fourth. I still maintain he will be suited by a step up to a mile and six and wouldn’t be surprised to see him emerge as a candidate for races like the Melrose Handicap at York’s Ebor meeting next month or the Mallard Handicap at Doncaster’s St Leger meeting in September.
Talking of James Fanshawe, I was extremely disappointed with the run of Arthenus in the John Smith’s Cup at York. Progressive last year, he had run well in the Wolferton Stakes at Royal Ascot last month and looked tailormade for the valuable ten furlongs handicap. However, he wasn’t the quickest into stride and then failed to change gear when asked inside the final couple of furlongs. Perhaps the ground wasn’t soft enough for him but it was still a very poor effort.
I thought Celestial Path ran well in the one mile handicap on the Knavesmire. Third in the Racing Post Trophy as a juvenile and fifth in the 2000 Guineas behind Gleneagles last year, he reportedly fractured his tibia soon afterwards. The four year old had run respectably in Cologne and at Epsom earlier this season but he produced a much better effort yesterday off a mark of 102 when finishing second behind Home Cummins. Yet to race beyond a mile, one wonders whether Sir Mark Prescott may aim him at the Cambridgeshire. He is a well handicapped horse on the pick of his form.
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